It’s rare to find an architectural masterpiece available for an accessible price, and rarer still to find two masterpieces on the same lot for one low price.
But it’s a current reality at the hillside property known as the J.J. Mulvihill house, now on the market for $1.59 million.
The property includes a main residence designed by midcentury architect Harwell Hamilton Harris and a design studio built by award-winning regenerative architect John T. Lyle.
How quiet is it? “It’s up in the hills, quiet, serene, where you can enjoy the beauty surrounding you, and even make friends with your bear neighbors,” says Matthew Berkley of Deasy/Penner & Partners, who is co-listing the property with Judy Webb-Martin of Podley Properties.
Yes, he said bear neighbors.
Homeowner Harriett Lyle, the widow of the aforementioned John T. Lyle, frequently observes bears in the yard, drinking from the koi pond, but oddly enough, not eating the fish. The bears leave the premises with little more than a stern command, she reports.
Harris, who worked for and was mentored by Richard Neutra, created the main house in 1949.
Real estate agent Barbara Lamprecht, who’s also a writer and teacher in architectural history, described it as “an ocean liner poised on a promontory … a powerful horizontal form against its mountainous backdrop. Its prow of glass, grey-green painted redwood, and red brick sails into space high above its hillside landscape and the unending carpet known as greater Los Angeles.”
The 2,002-square-foot, three-level main residence has three bedrooms and four baths. Original features include wood-beamed ceilings, brick fireplaces, built-in book cases and shelving, and walls of glass to take in the views.
It also features what could be considered one of the original indoor-outdoor “California rooms,” which Harris dubbed a “summer living room.”
The room is sheltered on top, but is open to breezes on two sides. It has a concrete floor and brick fireplace ideal for entertaining guests al fresco. Above it is an enclosed living room intended for use in the winter.
The building designed by Lyle in 1986 is located to the side of the house and oriented with the windows facing south into the oak woodland. It was last used as an architect’s design studio, but would be ideal for a painter, sculptor, musician, or guest. It has a bathroom and a bedroom.
Lyle also designed the award-winning landscaping, adding paths that call to mind a river winding its way downhill, and native plants and trees. The gnarled Engelmann oak was already there.
Little is known about original owner J.J. Mulvihill, but Harris, who died in 1990, was known for his work assimilating European and American design influences. After working for Neutra, the architect started his own practice, and served as the dean for the School of Architecture of the University of Texas and a professor at North Carolina State University.
Lyle, who died in 1998, was a professor and designer of landscape architecture at Cal Poly Pomona. He was known for his regenerative style, and the Lyle Center for Regenerative Studies at Cal Poly Pomona is named after him.
If this double dip interests you, you’ll have to act fast. According to Berkley, the property has been shown multiple times a day since it went on the market earlier this month.
The seller is “very concerned about maintaining the legacy of the property,” he adds. Ideally, the new owner will be “someone who will want the property because of what it is.”
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